Photo Courtesy of Gary Gao: Senior Gary Gao practices badminton in his backyard by himself, as in-person practices are no longer feasible. “Sometimes, you just have to make do with what you have,” Gao said. “Some practice is better than no practice.”

Gao’s improvements through badminton

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The badminton team struggles to keep their legs engaged while doing the wall sits. An added challenge was placed, they had to introduce themselves. As sweat dripped off their foreheads, the team knew they would be done once the introductions ended, but some students slowly introduced themselves, increasing the wall sits. A memorable moment, but not a pleasant one.

Gao was introduced to badminton by his father. Urging him to join a sport, Gao began pursuing badminton in his freshman year and continued playing as a senior. As the badminton team’s new senior captain, Gary Gao faces new responsibilities along with challenges from the pandemic. Dedication and hard work are important for Gao to overcome these obstacles and improve many aspects of his life.

“Badminton helped me meet new friends, people who were really down to earth,” Gao said. “It helped me learn new things, improve my work habits, be more confident as a person, and meet new people.” 

Gao and the team are able to hone their skills by practicing together, emphasizing collaboration. However, with current circumstances, individual practices have also allowed Gao to seek improvement. With more free time, Gao has been presented with chances to consciously make more beneficial decisions.

“I’ve improved my mentality,” Gao said. “After getting scolded by my previous coaches, [I’ve learned to] see myself from a different angle. I used to be really lazy and would choose games over [being productive], but now I see that games won’t help me, and I would rather work on self improvement.” 

Since the pandemic, Gao has been itching to play badminton. With the badminton club closed, he has limited options for practicing. As it can be difficult to stay motivated and active, Gao gives badminton drills to the team to perform at home. 

“I try to provide examples of exercises [the team] can do at home and on the courts,” Gao said. [The] exercises help with agility [and] other types of [on- court] drills.” 

As the team’s captain, Gao has been trying to organize communications for the team by creating a Discord server and helping them to know each other. Thus, Gao made a positive community within the team.

“I am very glad that I chose to pursue Badminton,” Gao said. “I hope current members are staying safe and as a team, we need to work together and be more positive in this whole situation. In the end, we are all in the team to have a good time.”

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